WRC

Rally of Turkey: Subaru leg one summary

Weather Persistent, heavy rain throughout the morning. The rain eased and there were brighter conditions in the afternoon. Temperatures on the stages ranged from 11C to 20C. Petter Solberg lies in second place overall after an action-packed ...

Weather
Persistent, heavy rain throughout the morning. The rain eased and there were brighter conditions in the afternoon. Temperatures on the stages ranged from 11C to 20C.

Petter Solberg lies in second place overall after an action-packed first Leg of competition on Rally Turkey today. The combination of some shrewd tyres choices and a perfectly reliable car kept Solberg near the top of the leaderboard all day and enabled him to set the fastest time on three stages. The monsoon-like weather of the past few days brought chaos to the event and led to the cancellation of three of the nine planned speed tests. Although the weather improved as the day went on, stages that were dry and rutted on the pre-event recce were instead waterlogged, muddy and extremely slippery. Chris Atkinson drove faultlessly in the treacherous conditions. After making some adjustments to his car's set-up early in the day, Atkinson's speed increased along with his confidence. He holds seventh place overall and has his sights set on improving on that position over the next two days.

SS1: 0758HRS PERGE 1 (22.43KM)

Since the pre-event recce, heavy rain and storms had wreaked havoc along the south coast of Turkey and the host town of Kemer, and at the start of Leg one the persistent torrential rain caused more problems. The wind, rain and fog grounded the rally's emergency helicopter so organisers were forced to cancel the first and second stages. Instead, crews drove the waterlogged SS1 and SS2 as road sections and went directly to SS3.
Fastest time: Stage cancelled

SS2: 0841HRS MYRA 1 (24.15KM)
Fastest Time: Stage cancelled

SS3: 0924HRS KUMLUCA 1 (9.90KM)

Even though it was still raining heavily, organisers decided that SS3 was safe to run, and the 9km section at Kumluca became the first competitive test of the rally. Crews reported atrocious driving conditions, with deep puddles and an extremely slippery muddy surface. Compared to the dry gravel route on which the drivers had prepared their pace notes, Friday's SS3 was almost unrecognisable. Ford's Marcus Gronholm set the quickest time, with Subaru's Petter Solberg second and Ford privateer Kosti Katajamaki third. Harri Rovanpera was the first WRC driver to hit problems - his Skoda Fabia emerged from the stage with heavy suspension damage to its right-hand rear corner.
Fastest Time: Gronholm (Ford) 7:42.7

SS4: 1222HRS PERGE 2 (22.43KM)

After a 30-minute service halt in Kemer, crews drove back into the mountains for a repeat of the earlier three stages. But once again the bad weather interrupted the event's timetable. After the earlier passage of 67 cars, the repeat run of the 22km Perge section was cancelled by the Clerk of the Course because the amount of mud made it almost impassable.
Fastest time: Stage cancelled

SS5: 1305HRS MYRA 2 (24.15KM)

Organisers abandoned the first half of SS5 because the condition of the road was so bad. Instead, crews made their way to a new start line, close to the original midpoint. By this time, the rain had stopped and the stage quickly began to dry out. Running as first car on the road, Gronholm was quickest with his team-mate Mikko Hirvonen second and Citroen privateer Xavier Pons third. Petter Solberg's car scooped up a radiator-full of mud in a particularly rutted section and the Norwegian reported an overheating engine when he crossed the line. Despite this, Solberg tied the fourth fastest time to hold second place overall.
Fastest Time: Gronholm (Ford) 8:54.0

SS6: 1305HRS KUMLUCA 2 (9.90KM)

As the rain stopped and the gloom lifted, stage conditions improved dramatically for the repeat of the Kumluca stage. The Ford pair of Gronholm and Hirvonen were first and second fastest with Colin McRae, standing in for the injured Sebastien Loeb, third. Chris Atkinson was fourth fastest in his Subaru Impreza WRC2006 and said he was happier with its handling after making set-up changes in the service before SS5. Petter Solberg and his older brother Henning set exactly the same time and shared the fifth-fastest spot. Skoda driver Jan Kopecky retired from the Leg after his Fabia WRC suffered steering damage. After the finish control, crews made their way back to Kemer for the second 30-minute service of the day.
Fastest Time: Gronholm (Ford) 7:21.3

SS7: 1611HRS TEKIROVA 1 (5.50KM)

Petter Solberg was fastest through the short new stage at Tekirova to collect his first stage win of the event. At the service after SS6 Solberg had reverted to the set-up he had used at the start of the day, which he felt better suited the mixed conditions. Francois Duval was next quickest in his privately entered Skoda, while Henning Solberg was third - giving the Norwegian fans something else to cheer about. Although the road remained muddy and extremely slippery in places, conditions generally were improving as the surface dried in the sunshine. Chris Atkinson reported an intermittent windscreen wiper fault, but otherwise had a clean run to set the sixth fastest time.
Fastest Time: Solberg (Subaru) 4:46.5

SS8: 1709HRS PHASELIS 1 (29.28KM)

The longest stage of the rally brought another fastest time for Petter Solberg, who finished two seconds quicker than his nearest rival, Henning. Gronholm was third to maintain the rally lead, but Petter's second place overall became more secure as he pulled eight seconds further ahead of Hirvonen. Selecting the correct tyres for the drying conditions proved extremely difficult and several leading competitors felt they had lost time with a bad choice. McRae, who had banked on drier conditions, dropped 35sec to Solberg on a tyre with limited cuts, while Danni Sordo dropped more than a minute on a compound he felt was too hard for the muddy road. Chris Atkinson was fifth fastest and moved ahead of McRae into sixth place overall.
Fastest Time: Solberg (Subaru) 24.17.1

SS9: 1922HRS AKDENIZ UNIVERSITY SSS1 (5.20KM)

The final test of the day was the spectator stage in Antalya. Headlights blazing, and in front of thousands of spectators, crews tackled the two lane 5.2km course in pairs. Less than four seconds separated the top ten drivers but Petter Solberg went quickest to notch up his third consecutive stage win of the day.
Fastest time: Solberg (Subaru) 4:12.6

Team Quotes

SUBARU WORLD RALLY TEAM MANAGING DIRECTOR, RICHARD TAYLOR:

"Despite the limited stage mileage, it has been a good day for the team. Petter sits in second overall and has given us three consecutive stage wins, all of which is a tribute to a lot of hard work by many people and the ongoing support of Pirelli. Chris has set some good times and I am confident he can move further up the order. We should be clear that there is still much more to do on the car, however we're definitely looking forward to getting back into the fight tomorrow."

PETTER SOLBERG:

"It's been a very good day actually. The development is clearly going in the right direction and the car is improving all the time. We'll have to keep pushing further and there's still a long way to go to keep looking for the speed, but after today I've got a good feeling."

CHRIS ATKINSON:

"We've taken quite a conservative approach to today because of the conditions. The set up changes we made earlier have made the car a bit easier to handle in the rough stuff and we're happy that we are driving to the plan. I'm sure that we can take some time out of the guys ahead and hopefully make up some positions."

News from Pirelli

MARIO ISOLA, PIRELLI COMPETIZIONI RALLY MANAGER

"Today we used the KP tread pattern for both Subaru cars. The conditions were very difficult with the day starting wet with lots of mud and then getting very rough later. Petter's three stage wins illustrate the performance of this tyre and we look forward to building on this again tomorrow."

Tomorrow's Leg

Leg two starts from Kemer at 0800hrs. Featuring seven more timed tests and 147 competitive kilometres, Saturday's Leg is the longest of the rally and includes six more gravel stages in the mountains before another night time visit to the Superspecial in Antalya.

-credit: swrt

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Series WRC
Teams Citroën World Rally Team